Japan by Rail (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/8
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Fully revised second edition, includes full historical background, cultural tips, getting to Japan, where to stay and eat, and timetables
'A find...Well researched.'-- The Japan Times (Japan)'Trailblazer's new guide is practical, highly interesting and should enable the visitor to save money and add to the enjoyment of Japan.'-- National Railway Museum Journal (UK)'Japanophile train enthusiasts, it seems you've met your hero'.-- The Daily Yomiuri (Japan""商品の説明をすべて表示する
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If I had to mention any minor criticisms of the book, I'd just have to mention that the author's tastes/preferences in food differ a bit from mine, and I found some of his restaurant recommendations questionable. But that's a personal choice matter. Of course, his general recommendation to look for good eats near railway stations and in the basements of large department stores was absolutely true, and I found lots of great, delicious foods that I liked. Also, a large section of the book is devoted to railroad timetables and itineraries, and though it might be very useful to some people, I had a very enjoyable time being a more casual and free form traveler, just choosing whether to step onto a train or not on a whim. I personally found this section unnecessary. He mentions that there are 3 types of Shinkansen ("bullet trains"), the Kodoma, the Hikari and the Nozomi, but he doesn't really explain the difference between the trains. The Kodoma (meaning echo) is the slowest of the Shinkansen, stopping at every train station, hence represented by the "speed of sound". The Hikari (meaning shining light flash) is the intermediate speed Shinkansen that makes only limited stops in the biggest cities, hence represented by the "speed of light". The Nozomi (meaning hope) is the fastest of the Shinkansen and tend to go non-stop from one major destination to another i.e. Osaka to Tokyo, hence are represented by the "speed of thought". Finally, I had two particularly thrilling and entertaining special events on my trip. I attended a pro baseball game, and I witnessed the Hamamatsu Kite Festival. Though both are briefly mentioned in this book, the author does not convey how exciting, energetic, and moving these experiences are when witnessed firsthand. I've never seen anything like it! Japanese baseball fans are insane (yelling, singing, banging sticks for the whole game)! I thought perhaps because the author is a Brit that baseball was not really an interest. The Kite Festival was just beyond words (like a half million yelling, bugle blowing, drum beating Japanese in traditional costume flying giant kites in 60 man teams on this giant sand dune park, with a double row a quarter mile long of food, game, souvenir, and beer stands). And that's just the beginning of the revelry. It was truly interesting to see the Japanese people losing all their inhibitions and just going jubilantly wild at these events. All I'm saying is that the author should better emphasize that these Festivals and games are truly amazing in Japan.
Now here is the gold in this book. Japan has a very special deal for tourists where you can get an unlimited rail pass (free ride) practically anywhere for either a 1 week or 2 week period. The cost of the pass is less than a single train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. Which is a ridiculous bargain. But the caveat is that you have to purchase a voucher for the pass out of the country! And then when you arrive in Japan you cash in the voucher for your rail pass. I did all of this and am so happy I did. I rode around, all over the place from city to city, for free. I can't tell you how much money this saved me. The rail pass gives you the freedom to see what you want to see, and where, without even considering the cost.
This is the focus of this book. It tells you exactly where and how to get the rail pass, where to cash in the voucher, and how to use the rail system to see the country. Loaded with lots of great information about the stunning tourist attractions in the country.
If you are going to japan and want to travel around a bit, maybe see Himeji castle, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo etc. then simply buy this book. There is no question that it is money well spent.
The train system for outsiders: The Japanese train system is very laid out, very organized, very disciplined and on-time. But it can be hard for a foreigner to understand. There are different types of trains and different train lines, you can reserve a seat etc. This book helps you figure all that out.
One caveat: The rail system in Japan is composed of the rails from several different companies so the Japan Rail Pass will not be good on every track and every train, or on the city subway systems but that doesn't matter much. It's good on the vast majority of rails and trains. So glad I got this book!
- horrible organization, good luck finding out about your next stop, it will be scattered over a whole chapter
- woefully incomplete, why not just list every train route? How could a two-inch thick book about trains in Japan not include a complete all-in one route guide?
- waste of space sightseeing information, there's no way you're going to Japan with this as your only reference, you're going to need a Lonely Planet or something. So don't waste heavy pages trying to tell me what to see in a couple randomly selected write-ups
- no time table - are you kidding?! No timetable?! A freaking book about trains!
- no station information - how about some station maps and information? even airplane magazines tell you where you're going to need to go in major city airports
- mostly covers bullet trains - bullet trains are very easy to take and have English announcements. The local trains are difficult and are only in Japanese. almost no information on these routes.
DON'T WASTE THE TIME MONEY OR WEIGHT!
Traveled from Narita to Tokyo to Sendai/Matsushima and Hachinohe and have been impressed with the accuracy of the contents. The Japanese system of train travel is incredibly organized.
We will use this book as a basis for traveling again.